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Word by Word

The Power of Fan Mail

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I recently got a couple of fan letter—emails, actually—about my Tails of Frederick and Ishbu books:

“Are you going to make any more Frederick and Ishbu adventure books? I read both of those books in two days, so could you at least think about it?”

For those of you who don’t know, there are currently two books in the series. The first, THE MYSTERY OF THE BURMESE BANDICOOT came out in 2007. It introduces rat brothers Frederick and Ishbu, who live in a cage in Miss Dove’s fifth grade classroom. Ishbu loves marshmallow treats and carrot sticks, and Frederick loves geography. During their sojourn in the class, Frederick has learned to read. When the two rats are called to save the world from the evil mastermind (a blind, albino opossum named The Big Cheese) Frederick’s reading skills—and the fifth grade education he’s received—save the day.

The second book, THE CASE OF THE PURLOINED PROFESSOR, came out in 2009. It can be read on its own, although it includes several continuing characters. The lovable rats must again save the world from the Big Cheese and his gang, the Bilgewater Brigade.

The books are part adventure, part mystery, and total fun. Cultural references range from Edgar Allan Poe, to the Maltese Falcon.

Both books received good reviews and THE MYSTERY OF THE BURMESE BANDICOOT was awarded “Book of the Month” at a library in Wellington, New Zealand! Some fans in Prince George, BC invited me to come and visit their schools, and I had a marvelous time.

I loved writing those books, and I was heart broken when my publisher decided not to publish any more in the series. According to them, the books didn’t sell well enough.

Fortunately, I have options. With new technology, I don’t need a publisher; I can bring the third Frederick and Ishbu book out on my own. It’s truly a labor of love.

At the time of this writing, THE CASE OF THE PURLOINED PROFESSOR is still in print and is available from Amazon.com and all leading bookstores. THE MYSTERY OF THE BURMESE BANDICOOT went out of print in hardback, and I brought it back out in a paperback edition with my own cut paper artwork on the cover. It’s also available on Amazon.com.

I hope to have the third book finished by this summer. (Keep your fingers crossed!) So keep those cards and letter coming, folks. You inspire me.
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The Secret Chicken Society Awarded Oregon Spirit Award

The Secret Chicken Society won The Oregon Spirit Book Award in the Juvenile category. The award, sponsored by the Oregon Council of Teachers of English, selects Oregon authors who make “a distinguished contribution to children’s literature or young adult literature that engages and encourages readers’ imagination, discovery, and understanding, reflecting the spirit and values held by Oregonians.”

Winners will be presented with the award at the OCTE Fall Conference on October 5, 2013, at Wilsonville High School.

THE SECRET CHICKEN SOCIETY

$15.95 HC • 978-0-8234-2372-9

$5.99 PB • 978-0-8234-2765-9 Read More 
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the secret chicken society honored

Best of the Best 2012--Chicago Public Library
The Secret Chicken Society is now out in paperback, making a perfect selection for book clubs and literature circles!

It was recently honored with being named to the Chicago Public Library's "BEST OF THE BEST 2012" list of children's books:

http://www.chipublib.org/forkids/kidsbooklists/bestofbest_list.php

Next week, I'll be part of The Next Big Thing Blog Tour, so stay tuned to this channel!  Read More 
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Happy Spring

Make these cute chicks after reading THE SECRET CHICKEN SOCIETY
My new book, The Secret Chicken Society is now available from your favorite bookstore. Here's a brief description:

When Daniel finds out that his class is going to hatch chicks as a science project, he is thrilled. He's sure that his parents will let him adopt Peepers, who is his favorite. But who ever guessed that chicks could run amok and get into so much trouble? This warmheated chapter book about an environmentally-conscious family's experiment with poultry farming will provided plenty of clucks and lots of chuckles for young readers.

I've always loved the little bitty chenille chicks that you find at Easter, and here's a way to make your own. It's a fun and easy art project for kids to go with the book.

1. Use two yellow pom poms from the craft store. Glue them together. I used Alene's Tacky Glue. It's nice and thick and doesn't take long to dry.

2. Glue to a paper base. I punched a flower shape out of orange paper and then cut off two of the petals leaving two in front for feet and one in the back to help stabilize the chicks.

3. Cut a beak from a piece of orange construction paper. Glue to the top yellow pom pom.

4. Glue on two wiggly eyes, also from the craft store. You can use tiny black beads or pom poms instead.

5. Add a feather tail, or wings if you'd like.

6. Done! I told you it was easy!

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Highlights of 2011

Visit to Kenwood School
This has been an amazing year for me, both personally and professionally! Here are some of the highlights:

January--I sold a new Mouse picture book to Holiday House, tentatively titled SNOWMOUSE. It will release in Fall 2012.

I taught "Writing Your Life Stories" for Treasure Valley Community College. The senior citizens have amazing stories to tell, and I was proud to help.

February--My first International school visit to Prince George, BC was a lovely experience.

March--I taught a poetry workshop for Oregon Writing Project at Eastern Oregon University.

April--My mini-book tour of Oregon and Washington included school visits to Lincoln City, Dallas, Tacoma, and Vancouver, WA.

My first keynote speech for the Boise SCBWI conference

May--A trip to England with my sisters and their daughters! We visited Bath, Glastonbury, York, the Cotswolds, and London. More story material!

June--My son graduated from college. I am the proud mom of a college graduate!

July--August--Lots of belly dance performances, including my first solo veil dances. Also, lots of kayaking (lots of Advil, too!)A trip to Coos Bay, Oregon for a family wedding and a short story, "Dustbowl Journey", published in Cricket Magazine cap the summer.


September--National Book Festival. My husband and I flew to Washington, DC where I hosted the Oregon table. DON"T BE SILLY, MRS. MILLIE! was listed as a "52 Great Reads" book by the Library of Congress. We took the train home--a memorable trip across the country. Look for it to show up in a book someday.

October--HAUNTED HOUSE, HAUNTED MOUSE was released to good reviews. School visits in Sonoma, CA and the Humboldt County Author's Festival in Eureka, CA. A short story, "Dad Battles the Bat" published in Ladybug magazine.

November--A school visit to tiny Harper, Oregon, home of the Harper Hornets. My husband and I played lots of music gigs with "The Swingin' Four". Thanksgiving with our son.

December--I got the advance readers copies for "THE SECRET CHICKEN SOCIETY" (releasing from Holiday House in February) and "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MRS. MILLIE!" (releasing from Marshall Cavendish in May). Christmas in Portland, OR with our son.

What a year! I hope your New Year is filled with joy, good health, and happiness!

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